UPDATE: Japan Travel Ban: When Can I Re-enter Japan?

Posted by on August 19, 2020 – Life in Japan
japan travel ban update flowchart

Update as of July 30, 2020 From MOFA

We will be updating this as more information is released – 8/19/2020

According to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan, as of July 30, 2020, foreign nationals who posses the status of residence may re-enter Japan – with a catch.

This official statement says that currently, certain foreign nationals who hold residency in Japan are eligible to re-enter Japan – as long as they have a “Re-entry Confirmation Letter” (the form can be downloaded here), and can prove they have tested negative for COVID-19 within 72 hours of landing in Japan.

The official wording also states: “The relaxation is only applied to those who have left Japan with re-entry permit before the day when country/region where such foreign nationals are currently staying was designated as an area subject to denial of permission to entry into Japan.”

In other words, if you left Japan (with a re-entry permit) before the travel ban was enacted, you may be able to get back into Japan.

Who is Eligible to Re-enter?

The MOFA has ruled that from August 5, 2020, (as of writing this article: Aug. 17, 2020) foreign nationals who hold residency in Japan can re-enter if they fulfill the following conditions:

  • They left Japan before the travel ban on their home country (or country of stay) was first enacted
  • They have a “Re-entry Confirmation Letter” (can be obtained at a Japanese overseas establishment; more details here)
  • Certificate of negative test result, conducted within 72 hours of the departure flight

The full list of current border enforcement measures can be viewed here.

The wording here is rather vague. In order to re-enter Japan, you must be found to be in “special exceptional circumstances.” However, given the unclear language used by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, these “circumstances” seem to be decided on a case-by-case basis – by the discretion of the immigration services.

Restrictions Upon Re-entry

There are also heavy restrictions placed upon re-entrants even if they are able to make it through.

Upon arriving at the airport, all foreign nationals are subject to a PCR test until further notice (as of August 13, 2020, officially until the end of August but likely to be renewed).

Additionally, regardless of the PCR test results, all foreign nationals must wait for 14 days at a location designated by the quarantine station chief – and are barred from any use of public transportation following their re-entry during this 2 week period.

More information can be found on section “2. Quarantine Measures” here.

Can Non-residents Enter the Country?

As of writing this article (August 17, 2020), entry is still barred to anyone who do not hold residency in Japan or Japanese citizenship.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs has yet to provide information regarding non-residents entering Japan (such as on short term-tourist visas).

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